Partner May Anderson

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https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b6/May_Anderson_and_Louie_Felt.gifSarah Louise "Louie" Bouton Felt (May 5, 1850 – February 13, 1928) was the first general president of the children's Primary organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) between 1880 and 1925. An issue of Children's Friend paid tribute to the relationship of Louie B. Felt, president of the Mormon organization for young children, and May Anderson, who worked in Felt's organization and edited Children's Friend. Felt's intimacies with women began within her polygynous marriage when she “fell in love” with a woman named Lizzie Mineer and asked her husband to marry her. But it was Anderson who came to share Felt's life. “Those who watched their devotion to each other declare that there never were more ardent lovers than these two.” They moved in together, and Felt's husband went to live with his other wives. “Unless duty called them away from each other,” they never separated. “When they were too tired to sit up any longer they put on their bathrobes and crawled into bed to work until the wee hours of the night.”

Louie Bouton was born May 5, 1850, in South Norwalk, Connecticut. She was the third child of Joseph Bouton and Mary Rebecca Barto. Her parents had become members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints several years before her birth. In 1866, the Bouton family traveled to Utah Territory to join other Latter-day Saints there. On the journey to Utah, Louie met Joseph H. Felt in Omaha. Because Joseph Bouton was ill, he and his family stayed in Omaha for six weeks. During that time Joseph Felt courted Louie, and they were married in Salt Lake City on December 24, 1866. [1] Joseph Felt was the eldest son of Nathaniel H. Felt.[2]

Brigham Young sent Felt and her husband to Muddy River in 1867, along with nine other young couples. They made their own adobe home, but due to severe weather and the remoteness of the area, they returned to Salt Lake City in 1869. In 1872, Felt used her inheritance to buy a house there. In the Salt Lake 11th Ward, Felt befriended Lillie Tuckett Freeze. Felt became the first counselor in the stake young women's organization and her ward's Primary president in 1878. Felt was unable to have children and encouraged her husband to live the Latter-day Saint law of plural marriage. Joseph married Elizabeth Mineer in 1875 and Elizabeth Tidwell in 1881. Felt helped look after and raise the children of these women.[1]

During the government attempts to prosecute polygamists, Felt twice left Utah Territory to avoid testifying in court against Joseph.[3] In 1918, 11 years after her husband's death, Felt was described as having been an exemplary wife fulfilling the role of a helpmeet to man.[4]

Eliza R. Snow, Presendia Kimball and Zina Young asked Felt to be the first general president of the Primary in May 1880. However, she was not officially appointed until a June 1880 conferences of the associations of the Salt Lake Stake. She was not released from her previous callings as ward treasurer, ward Primary president, and stake counselor in the youth organization until 1885.[1] Felt was set apart by the acting church president, John Taylor, who was assisted in the blessing by Eliza R. Snow.

Not all wards held Primary classes, and those that did had poor attendance. Felt visited Primaries when invited, but had to use her husband's money to pay her travel expenses. In 1888, Felt was sustained as General Primary President in General Conference. Lillie Tuckett Freeze was also sustained as her first counselor.[1]

On October 6, 1925, Felt stepped down as general president of the Primary due to failing health. Her first counselor and close friend May Anderson succeeded her. Felt died in Salt Lake City of a cerebral hemorrhage.[5]

Felt had intense and committed relationships with other women, and some historians have suggested that one of these relationships was romantic.[6][7] At the age of sixteen, Louie became the first wife of Joseph Felt, said to be "a tender, thoughtful, loving and devoted husband".[8] According to a biographical sketch published in 1919 in Children's Friend, Louie "fell in love with" Lizzie Mineer in 1874, and encouraged her husband to marry her as a plural wife, in part to bring children into the family (Louie herself was infertile), and this marriage took place in 1876.[9] In 1881, when Joseph married Elizabeth Liddell, Louie "opened her home and shared her love."

In 1883, Louie met May Anderson, and their friendship soon "ripened into love", according to an anonymous biographical sketch of Anderson in The Children's Friend, which described their new relationship as follows:

"Those who watched their devotion to each other declare that there never were more ardent lovers than these two. And strange to say during this time of love feasting,[10] Mary changed her name to May because it seemed to be more agreeable to both".[11]

Joseph Felt did not marry Anderson, but in 1889, at a time when Louie was ill, May moved in.[11] As a polygamist, Joseph had two houses, and it is unclear where he spent most of his time.[3] It has been suggested that Joseph lived in his other home after May moved in,[7] though this conclusion is based on circumstantial evidence.[3] The actual living arrangements of Joseph Felt are difficult to verify because after the 1890 Manifesto polygamous families often sought to obscure their living arrangements.

After Joseph's death in 1907, Louie and May continued to live together, sleeping in the same bedroom, for 40 years until Louie's death. They were referred to by others as the "David and Jonathan of the Primary", a term they embraced.[11] (The biblical relationship has never been interpreted as a sexual relationship by the LDS Church, but as one of fraternal love.)

May never married. After the death of one of Joseph's junior wives, Louie raised their children. At her funeral she was described as being "devoted to her husband and to his children. She was a good house-keeper, a real home-maker. Her devotion to her husband was the kind that helped him to stand by his ideals of right."[12][13]

Though acknowledging a lack of direct proof, some historians speculate that Louie and May could have been what in modern times would be called lesbian partners.[7][6] This is based largely on the seemingly erotic connotations of their biographies that appeared in Children's Friend; for example, the statement that while the couple was working on Primary matters, "when they were too tired to sit up any longer they put on their bathrobes and crawled into bed to work until the wee small hours of the night".[7] Other Mormon historians argue that female-female sexual intimacy would have been regarded as sinful at the time, and argue for a presumption that their relationship was purely platonic.[3] Other researchers have been non-committal on the issue; one has stated only that Anderson "was as close to President Felt as any woman could be".[14] Both sides acknowledge, however, that the relationship between Louie and May was an intense one, and that they shared a deep love for one another.

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